The Fear of Missing Out
I was in conversations with groups of mums on Wednesday.
They said their kids were attending too many after-school clubs, and sports, and activities and that they were feeling exhausted by the enormous pressure trying to keep on top of it all. Yet, the other Mums seem to manage. They told me that they didn’t want their children to lose out or feel less significant than the other children.
Are we Good Enough?
There appears to be an unwritten rule that has these women compare and compete or else as a parent, they just aren’t good enough.
One Canadian mum was surprised at how early kids in the UK learn to be competitive and the number of clubs on offer that encourages children as young as three to compete and compare!
They are still babies. Not yet children. And they are being turned into Mini-Adults.
Competition is meant to be a good thing. Right?
I have this whole thing going on right now about ‘comparison‘, and now it’s in my mind I am seeing it everywhere, virtually all the time.
Being on Instagram does not help OMG.🤤
My hairdresser was talking about her looming beach holiday and how she is dreading going away with her friend because her friend is so much skinnier and beautiful.
There was no way she is going to sit next to her on the beach!
The Anti Sticker & Reward Chart Teacher/Mum
And then there is the child who gets a merit at school just for being kind – what about all the others?
Shouldn’t children just be kind, anyway? Will they become like Pavlov’s Dogs and only be kind when they are rewarded?
Or a certificate for ‘good’ work, when they enjoyed intrinsically creating the work and didn’t need a reward for doing so.
For several years, I’ve been harping on about my dislike of stickers and rewards for children, yawn. There are numerous studies to support the effects rewards have on children as a short gain for a longer term pain. As Alfie Kohn, parenting expert says:
“The more we want our children to do something, the more counterproductive it it will be to reward them for doing so“.
I’ve also been fascinated by what makes people tick since I graduated in Education and Psychology at The University of Wales in 1994.
Rewards make our children compliant and less likely to create independently again. Can you truly say reward charts work for you, or did you create a behaviour in your child which meant s/he would only do it for an incentive? Been there, done that. And again it’s a measure of comparison.
So for today, Just Notice
For today though, just notice how much you compare yourself and others and what we do.
Catch yourself comparing and listen out for others too.
How is constant comparing healthy for our children? How is it healthy for us!
Do we start comparing our child from the moment they are conceived?
Is Mindfulness the Answer?
I originally started writing this about mindfulness which the mums and I discussed too, as they were keen for their children to learn it. I keep seeing lots of mindful cards for children in my Facebook newsfeed. I’m qualified to teach yoga and mindfulness to children yet while I see how enormously beneficial they it concerns me there is so much out there now about it when we aren’t addressing what’s at the root of the increase in children’s mental health problems.
Why not let our kids be kids? So they have time to BE kids?
Because that’s their expertise and they are excellent at it.
Doing and Comparing sidetracks us from the main thing where they all score 100% – For being creators.
When we allow them to BE, they just create, and we educators and parents can take a step back.
We find that we really don’t need to do so much. We also need to allow ourselves to BE too.
How we are is far more important and joyful than having to continually do things to satisfy …. What?
Are we in fear of doing nothing?
My advice to all the ‘comparing mums’, including myself:
follow your hearts, your gut feelings, your values. The herd are going the wrong way.
When we are prepared to change our behaviour, the pressure will be lifted from our kid’s shoulders.
We can realistically approach the issues arising because their friends have or do not have XYZ and realise just how ridiculously unfair it all is.
Join me in Guildford on the 11th February where I’ll be discussing this topic further and sharing with you ways we can create ‘Happy Kids’